Virginia Landfill Regulations
Virginia Waste Management Board
July 1, 2019
Dear Board Members,
We are writing to express our concerns about the laws and regulations in Virginia regarding landfill construction and operation. Because we do not consider ourselves experts in this field, we will limit our comments to general observations concerning the laws of the Commonwealth in relation to surrounding eastern states.
A number of issues are suggested by the fact that out-of-state corporations find the laws of Virginia to be so deficient in relation to other states that it is economically feasible, and in fact more profitable, to transport waste from a 500 air-mile radius to a Virginia site, rather than to deposit the waste into the state of origin.
As a specific reference, there is a 1200 acre landfill with an 800 acre fill site proposed in Cumberland County. This facility is in contrast to an earlier, failed 1200 acre facility within one mile of the new proposed site that was designed for a mere 200 acre fill area.
We find it distressing that identical regulations apply to both landfills, one being 16 times geometrically larger than the other. How can the same regulations in regard to liner, buffers, water quality monitoring, historic sites, highway design, air quality monitoring, and local property value impact be equal between a 200 acre fill site and an 800 acre fill site? Virginia is trying to compare apples to apples, when we clearly have apple to orange facilities. How can it be that regulations in Virginia can be so lax that County Waste (or others) and their consultant engineers, could propose a landfill with the deficiencies of on site and nearby streams, wetlands, floodplains (that have not been revisited by FEMA in over 10 years) and still have confidence that their proposal will be approved? They are confident because our regulations are so obsolete compared to those of the home states in which they operate, that our communities are targeted for facilities that would not be approved in those home states.
At your June 10th meeting, we were pleased when your chairman stated that if Virginia regulations were more stringent than federal standards, that we should not revert to a lesser standard. We wish to take this opportunity to propose to this Board that you take the necessary steps to recommend to the DEQ and the state legislature that a comprehensive overhaul of Virginia's waste management regulations be instituted.
Virginia should be a leader in setting the standards for public health, safety, and environmental quality, rather than simply accepting mediocrity as an acceptable standard to accommodate out-of-state businesses.
Current member, Cumberland County Board of Zoning Appeals
Former member and Chairman, Cumberland County Board of Supervisors
Former member, Cumberland County Planning Commission
Former member and Chairman, Cumberland County Board of Zoning Appeals